Types of Instruments: Keyboards, Woodwind, and Brass

music instrument store

There are five primary categories of musical instruments. The Hornbostel-Sachs system, the most common form of classification, categorises various instruments into woodwind, string, percussion, keyboard, and brass instruments. You can find all these types of instruments in a music instrument store. This article will discuss three of these instrument types.

Keyboard Instruments

When playing a keyboard, the musician presses a series of levers with their fingers to cause a string or other device to vibrate. Instruments like the piano and organ are examples of keyboard instruments. Keyboard possibilities are rounded out with celestas and carillons. 

Like guitars, keyboards are available in acoustic and electric varieties. This includes keyboardless or keyed synthesisers. Keyed synthesisers are often called “keyboards,” “electronic keyboards,” “synths,” or “synthesiser keyboards.” 

These keyed instruments are played similarly to a piano or organ; however, they produce a more comprehensive range of sounds than only those instruments. Most electronic keyboards include a library of MIDI instruments preinstalled. String, brass, woodwind, percussion, and other keyed instruments are all included.

Woodwind Instruments

Using a set of keys (often silver-plated) that, when depressed and released, let air flow through different lengths of the instrument and produce notes of variable pitch, the four principal woodwind instruments of the orchestra function. These are, from highest to lowest, in terms of the overall pitch of the music they represent:


A thin-bored, silver- or gold-plated instrument that is used by blowing across an opening at one end is a flute. It is held horizontally immediately under the lips. Piccolo, its higher-pitched relative, is more common than the alto flute, which plays a lower range. 


The oboe is a double-reed woodwind musical instrument with a vertically oriented conical bore, a hardwood body, metal keys, and a flared bell. The oboe is a treble clef instrument with a soprano range of under two octaves that does not transpose. The tone can go from bright and airy to deep and resonant, frequently evoking comparisons to the human voice. It is a virtuosic solo instrument frequently used for orchestral solo melodies.

The cor anglais (also known as the English horn) and the baritone oboe and heckelphone are two, much less common, members of the oboe family (bass oboe) available in a music instrument store.

Brass instruments


The oldest musical instrument still in use. The horizontal playing style is achieved by opening and closing several valves on the instrument’s top, allowing many tonal possibilities. The ‘natural’ or valveless trumpet is most commonly used in modern “genuine” Baroque orchestras (which employ instruments from the historical time or copies thereof); however, the piccolo (higher) and bass (lower) trumpets are occasionally heard. The less versatile bugle, which has fewer notated notes, is rarely heard outside military settings.

French Horn

The contemporary instrument has the most elaborate appearance; it is made out of a primary tube compacted into a conical bore or bell, into which several valves are positioned centrally. Altering the fundamental pitch was accomplished before the valve system was invented by inserting various crooks that adjusted the primary tube length. Changing specific notes was accomplished by holding the hand in several subtly varying places within the bell. When used in a popular setting, “horn” always refers to a saxophone; for the cor anglais, see “oboe” in the woodwind section above. The French horns are usually placed separately from the other brass instruments.